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EnigmaPower
2009-Jun-21, 05:35 PM
Don't know if it's just me but everytime I hear that Einstein invented the theory of relativity or Newton invented the theory of gravity I am kinda confused. Wouldn't it be more proper to say they discovered them?

Gandalf223
2009-Jun-21, 06:31 PM
Einstein did not invent relativity, but he did come up with the theory. Likewise, while Newton didn't invent gravity, he received credit for putting it on paper (so to speak.)

I reckon you're both right...

John Jaksich
2009-Jun-21, 06:45 PM
I try to liken it to an alien civilization discovering the "meaning of gravity" in their own planetary system. How would they know they had discovered it? What is their language for gravity? How do they reckon an inverse square law in their own native mathematics?
How do they perceive light and its speed?

Gandalf223 gave a very good explanation, though, I believe!!

Gillianren
2009-Jun-21, 06:58 PM
I prefer "developed," myself. It certainly isn't invented, but to me, "discovered" implies acquiring or encountering the thing whole, which leaves out the enormous amounts of time and energy both men spent.

astromark
2009-Jun-21, 07:08 PM
The buck stops here... It's up to you and each of us to use the proper term of language when making these statements of discovery. Was it invented or discovered. A great deal of confusion can be found when the wrong term is taken for granted. Know body invented gravity. Its there despite of us. Discover it we did. Formulate explanations we might, Invent... No.
Often enough it is enough to smile knowingly and move on.
In the excitement of discovery is the word invented used.? Yes. The truth is lost in a flash of enthusiasm.

kleindoofy
2009-Jun-21, 07:13 PM
Einstein did not invent relativity ... Newton didn't invent gravity ...
Right. The OP spoke specifically of the theories, not of the phenomena.

Gillian is right with "developed," which should be completed with "formulated."

Not all scientists do the whole bit, but Newton and Einstein did: they had the ideas, developed the theories, and formulated them.

John Jaksich
2009-Jun-21, 07:21 PM
Dear kleindoofy and astromark,

Without wanting to start a "flame" please address further:

Best regards...

EnigmaPower
2009-Jun-21, 07:31 PM
It seems almost nonsensical to me that professors who certainly know better still use the term invented. I agree with Gillianren and astromark, developed or formulated is a much better choice. I mean I can understand saying Newton formulated the theory of gravity but discovered it? Gravity was discovered (more or less) the first time a caveman fell off a cliff and I am pretty sure that predates Newton by at least a few years.

Gandalf223
2009-Jun-21, 07:45 PM
Right. The OP spoke specifically of the theories, not of the phenomena.

I think that's what I spoke to.

ngc3314
2009-Jun-21, 07:49 PM
It seems almost nonsensical to me that professors who certainly know better still use the term invented.

Unless they are philosophers of science who have been infected with the virus of postmodernism. No, scratch that, especially then. In their view, everything has such an element of social construction that the viewpoint of invention seems paramount.

(Nothing in the preceding paragraph should be construed to imply my agreement with any but the most obviously true, and minor, applications of the view described).

kleindoofy
2009-Jun-21, 08:00 PM
I think that's what I spoke to.
Yes, and I agree with what you wrote. I was just using your words to help specify the point.


Dear kleindoofy and astromark,

Without wanting to start a "flame" please address further:

Best regards...
Huh??? :confused:

John Jaksich
2009-Jun-21, 08:06 PM
My bad...:sad:

Sometimes I get clearly mistaken with posts that I do not always understand

I apologize...

Best Regards...

orionjim
2009-Jun-21, 08:15 PM
Don't know if it's just me but everytime I hear that Einstein invented the theory of relativity or Newton invented the theory of gravity I am kinda confused. Wouldn't it be more proper to say they discovered them?

This could explain why people use the term "invented a theory”:

"Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. In our endeavour to understand reality we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of a closed watch. He sees the face and the moving hands, even hears it ticking, but he has no way of opening the case. If he is ingenious he may form some picture of the mechanism which could be responsible for all the things he observes, but he may never be quite sure his picture is the only one which could explain his observations. He will never be able to compare his picture with the real mechanism and he cannot even imagine the possibility of the meaning of such a comparison." ---Albert Einstein

Jim

Centaur
2009-Jun-21, 09:37 PM
This could explain why people use the term "invented a theory”:

"Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. In our endeavour to understand reality we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of a closed watch. He sees the face and the moving hands, even hears it ticking, but he has no way of opening the case. If he is ingenious he may form some picture of the mechanism which could be responsible for all the things he observes, but he may never be quite sure his picture is the only one which could explain his observations. He will never be able to compare his picture with the real mechanism and he cannot even imagine the possibility of the meaning of such a comparison." ---Albert Einstein

Jim

Jim and Einstein are on the right track. People present theories. Develop is also a good verb. Such theories often include assumptions which the presenter/developer admits at the outset, e.g. Newton’s laws of motion which he also called axioms. In that sense the theories might be considered inventions, but it would be an awkward use of the language to speak of them as such.

DrRocket
2009-Jun-21, 10:41 PM
Don't know if it's just me but everytime I hear that Einstein invented the theory of relativity or Newton invented the theory of gravity I am kinda confused. Wouldn't it be more proper to say they discovered them?

The distinction is more philosophical than scientific.

Did Newton invent calcusus, discover it, or develop it ? Why should I care ?

Amber Robot
2009-Jun-21, 10:51 PM
To me, the word "discovered" implies that the thing discovered existed before it was discovered. Physics theories are developed, as Gillianren says, and don't exist before they are developed.

Ara Pacis
2009-Jun-21, 11:23 PM
Invented.


Origin:
1425–75; late ME invented (ptp.) found, discovered (see -ed 2 ) < L inventus, ptp. of invenīre to encounter, come upon, find, equiv. to in- in- 2 + ven(īre) to come + -tus ptp. suffix

cfgauss
2009-Jun-21, 11:44 PM
The distinction is more philosophical than scientific.

Did Newton invent calcusus, discover it, or develop it ? Why should I care ?

No, Leibniz did :D.

But, from my experience, the way they're used, we "discover" general ideas and "invent" specific methods. So, you could discover how to solve the quadratic equation, but invent a method to numerically solve it, for example.

mugaliens
2009-Jun-22, 03:44 AM
I personally discovered gravity the first time I fell off the back of my tricycle and walloped my head on the tile floor. Who knows how Newton discovered gravity for himself? We do know, however, from his writings, that he formulated a mathematical theory which explains it, just as Einstein discovered special relativity, then formulated a theory and the math behind it to explain it.

Ken G
2009-Jun-22, 04:01 AM
(Nothing in the preceding paragraph should be construed to imply my agreement with any but the most obviously true, and minor, applications of the view described).That's a nice, and broadly effective, disclaimer. Can I copy it whole into my signature?

ngc3314
2009-Jun-22, 12:02 PM
That's a nice, and broadly effective, disclaimer. Can I copy it whole into my signature?

I hadn't even noticed what a broad-spectrum application that has! I may save a copy myself.